If you’re familiar with Kent Johnson’s game, you know he’s not afraid to try anything with the puck on his racquet. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that he scored for Team Canada in Michigan at World Juniors 2022.
In the first period of Canada’s game against the Czech Republic on Saturday, Johnson snagged the puck behind the Czech net. With a defender tied in his crease with Logan Stankoven and goaltender Tomas Suchanek down in the butterfly, Johnson had the perfect opportunity to flick the puck around and into the back of the net.
The goal gave Canada a 2-1 lead late in the opening frame. After two thirds, Canada led 4-1 against the Czech Republic.
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) August 13, 2022
It’s not the first time Johnson has scored a lacrosse-style goal. In fact, this is the fourth time in his young career that he has accomplished the feat during a game.
“Probably the best,” said Johnson at the first break when asked where that goal ranked among his previous goals. “Obviously a big goal, especially at the time of the game. It was pretty awesome. I knew (the net) was pretty open so I’m glad it worked out.”
MORE: Team Canada 2022 World Juniors roster, results
Mike Johnson mentioned on the TSN show that when asked who was most likely to score a Michigan at the World Juniors, the most popular answer was Johnson. It turns out his teammates know him pretty well.
The Blue Jackets contender, who was drafted 5th overall in the 2021 NHL draft, has one goal and one assist so far at the 2022 World Juniors. He will try to create more magic for Canada, who will play their final group game against Finland on Monday.
What is a “Michigan” goal in hockey?
While the Michigan only made its way to the NHL in the last year, the origins of the move actually date back to the ’90s.
University of Michigan forward Mike Legg completed the scoop-and-score goal during a game in 1996. He picked up the puck with the blade of his stick and while the puck was still on the blade he lashed out with his branch and the net and threw the puck into the goal.
It has since been nicknamed “The Michigan” due to the school Legg played for. It was a move that didn’t work in the NHL back in the day when a player would likely have been knocked down if they attempted the move.
However, as the NHL becomes more and more filled with skill and finesse, we’ve seen it successfully pulled through in the NHL. Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov was the first player to make it, with the goal in 2019. He made it again later that season.
Trevor Zegras became the youngest player to do so, scoring a goal in Michigan last NHL season.
Which team does Kent Johnson play for?
It’s fitting that the Michigan goal came from a Michigan man. Johnson has played with the University of Michigan for the past two seasons. He averaged more than a point per game in his freshman year and followed that up with another impressive performance last season. The dodgy winger tied Owen Power with 29 for the most assists on the team and finished fourth with 37 points.
His points put him fifth in the Big Ten, but his performance of 1.16 points per game was good enough to tie with fellow Wolverine Matty Beniers for second place in the conference. Overall, Johnson finished his Michigan career with 17 goals, 47 assists and 64 points in 58 games.
MORE: Schedule, Scores, Results for all World Juniors 2022 games
He joined Columbus after the NCAA season, ran in nine games for the Blue Jackets and recorded three assists. After the World Juniors, Johnson will look to pull the Blue Jackets roster out of training camp. Otherwise he starts the season in the AHL with the Cleveland Monsters.
Johnson has been ineligible to play in the NCAA since signing his entry-level contract.
Kent Johnson’s scouting report
The Blue Jackets prospect owns some of the silkiest mittens you will find anywhere. Johnson has an uncanny ability to mark defenders without fear of walking through them rather than bypassing them. His hands were on full display with the Michigan goal.
He’s strong with the puck on his racquet and is able to read defenders’ body language to get past them. Johnson is smart enough to know when to throw the puck to a teammate rather than attempt an extra pull.
MORE: Why is the World Juniors being played in August?
For all his skill, Johnson is better known as a distributor than a goalscorer. He’ll be a great offensive weapon for a Blue Jackets team that could use some creativity.